What Type of Government Does the United States Have?

The Capitol building is the meeting place of the United States Congress.
The Capitol building is the meeting place of the United States Congress.

The US is a republic composed of 50 states, a number of territories, and a district, Washington D.C, which is also the country's capital city. The United States was formerly a British Colony and fully acquired its independence from Britain in 1776. After its independence, the US set out to acquire new territories, some of which were later admitted as states. The government of the United States is quite unique when compared to the government systems of other countries. Several nations tend to model their government around that of the US.

Government and Politics

The politics of the US takes place mainly under a two-party system. Two major political parties, the Democratic and Republican parties, dominate the political scene of the US. The presidency usually alternates between the two political parties. However, there are other minority political parties. The minority parties are rarely given recognition. In very rare instances do the minority parties to form the government.

Federal Government

The president is the head of the federal government of the United States. However, each state forms its government for administration purposes. The powers of the state governments are exercised within restricted state boundaries. The most powerful figures in the states are the governors. The federal government of the US has three branches: the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. The powers, roles, and limitations of the three branches are highlighted in the US constitution. The three branches of the government are as discussed below.

The Executive

The head of the executive branch of the federal government is the president. The president is the most powerful figure in the government. She or he is both the head of the government and state. The president is assisted by the vice president who is elected as the running mate in a general election. The powers and functions of the president are, however, limited by the constitution. The responsibilities of the president include commander-in-chief of the armed forces and appointment of the members of the cabinet. The president is limited to a maximum of two terms of four years each.

The Legislative

The legislative branch is composed of the two parliamentary houses. The parliament of the United States is bicameral, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives is composed of 435 members with each member representing a congressional district. The state with the highest population has the highest number of representatives. The delegates representing the territories of the US are also members of the House of Representatives.

The Senate is composed of 100 members. Each of the 50 states elect two members to the Senate regardless of the geographical size or population. The senators are elected after every six years. Senate approves the president’s appointees by ensuring that the appointees are eligible to hold the office.

The Judiciary

The judiciary of the United States is independent of influences from the Legislature and the Executive. It is made up of the Supreme Court, federal courts, other minority courts, and the organizations that support them. The judiciary is responsible for upholding, explaining, and applying laws. It is also responsible for hearing of cases and making legal decisions.


More in World Facts